Wednesday, November 29, 2023

2023 CIF Section Champions Crowned

Here's a recap of all the action as we congratulate the newly crowned champions and wish the best of luck to the teams representing the San Diego Section in the State Playoffs.

Open Division Champions
Granite Hills Eagles (12-0)
Def. Lincoln 27-26

One of the most exciting Open Division Championship games in its 10-year history pitted the No. 3 seed Granite Hills Eagles against the top-ranked Lincoln Hornets at Snapdragon Stadium. Lincoln took a 13-0 lead in the first half, but Granite Hills clawed back to tie it 13-13 at halftime. The second half saw Lincoln go up 26-13 before Granite Hills responded with 14 unanswered points to take its first lead of the game late in the fourth quarter. Granite Hills’ defense came up with a monumental goal-line stand as the clock expired to secure the program's first-ever Open Division crown. Zachary Benitez was poised under pressure, passing for 166 yards and two touchdowns to senior Josh Zander. Benitez is the first freshman starting quarterback to win the CIF San Diego Open Division title. His performance was praised by head coach Kellan Cobbs, who said Benitez “is going to be a national recruit.” The thrilling victory extended Granite Hills’ win streak to 21.

Division I Champions
St. Augustine Saints
Def. Mission Hills 13-0

The Division I title game was a defensive battle with no scoring in the first quarter. St. Augustine got on the board in the second quarter on a one-yard rushing touchdown by freshman Honor Faalave-Johnson to take a 7-0 lead, which remained into halftime. Two-way standout Isaiah Hasten recorded interceptions to help keep Mission Hills off the board. St. Augustine extended the lead to 13-0 in the fourth quarter on another goal-line dive by Faalave-Johnson. The Saints' defense stood strong all night and came up with a late pick to seal their first section title since 2018.

Division II Champions
Del Norte Nighthawks (11-2)
Def. La Jolla 31-15

The main event of the weekend saw Del Norte defeat the La Jolla Vikings to capture its first football title in school history. Del Norte High School was founded in 2009 with their inaugural football season happening in 2010. Led by first-year head coach and former NFL linebacker Nick Barnett in his first season, the Nighthawks racked up 418 yards of total offense behind the play of quarterback Jack Schneider who threw for 213 yards and ran for 90. Running back Ryan Remigio rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown as Del Norte finally claimed a section title in its 14th season of football.

Division III Champions
La Jolla Country Day Torreys
Def. Grossmont 73-34

La Jolla Country Day quarterback Jaden Mangini turned in an epic performance, accounting for a single-game championship-record 10 touchdowns (6 passing, 4 rushing) to lead the Torreys to a dominant victory over Grossmont. Mangini threw for 414 yards and rushed for 115 more as La Jolla Country Day racked up a staggering 575 yards of total offense. The Foothillers scored before halftime to make it a one-score game, but the Torreys pulled away with five touchdowns in the third quarter. Mangini spread the ball around to his playmakers, connecting with Madden Craig for three touchdowns. The 73 points scored by La Jolla Country Day set a San Diego Section record for points in a championship game.

Division IV Champions
Mount Miguel Matadors (12-1)
Def. Chula Vista 35-14

Under first-year head coach Verlain Betofe, the Mount Miguel Matadors earned their first San Diego Section championship since 1960 with a decisive victory against Chula Vista in the Division IV title game. Mount Miguel built a multi-score first-half lead behind senior quarterback Matthew Barton, who passed for over 200 yards and five touchdowns, including three caught by senior receiver Jeremiah Castillo for 88 yards. Castillo also had an interception on defense in the first quarter.

"They've been here through the dark times," Betofe said of Barton and Castillo who were teammates for all four years at Mount Miguel, and Youth Football. 

"Being able to get these guys a championship after all the hard work they put in is amazing."

Prior to this season, the Matadors hadn't finished with a winning record since 2013. Their 12 wins this season are the most in team history, followed by its 11-win run in 1987.

Chula Vista got on the board in the fourth behind Izaac Baca's nine-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Gillespie. They would later score again when La'Darrione Perkins took off for a 46-yarder. The Matadors' defense forced three Chula Vista turnovers on the day to maintain control for Mount Miguel's first section title in over six decades.

Division V Champions
Sweetwater Red Devils
Def. Vincent Memorial 46-37

After overcoming an 0-4 start to the season, Sweetwater dug out of a 21-14 halftime deficit to secure its fifth title in team history. Running backs Xzavier Crews, Izell Wright, and Carlos Delgado each scored two touchdowns in the second half. Quarterback Jacobo Elias tried to lead Vincent Memorial back late, connecting on two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, but it proved too little too late. For Sweetwater, the adversity-filled season ended in triumph with their seventh win in nine games. Key offensive standouts were Crews, who ran for three touchdowns and 162 yards for the Red Devils, and Elias, who completed a stellar season passing for 334 yards and four touchdowns for the Scots.

Divison V-AA Champions
Holtville Vikings (9-2)
Def. Army & Navy Academy 27-21

In the inaugural Division 5-AA title game, Holtville captured its first section title since 2013 under the direction of first-year head coach Jason Turner. Sophomore quarterback Alonso Cuevas threw for two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, while sophomore running back Enrique Armas rushed for 145 yards and the eventual game-winning score.

8-Man Champions
Foothills Christian (9-2)
Def. St. Joseph Academy 31-26

Foothills Christian running back Kameron Brown rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Ben Hernandez connected with Brown on a 40-yard touchdown pass. St. Joseph mounted a late comeback attempt with two fourth-quarter scores but the Knights were able to hold on and earn its fourth 8-man title under head coach Joe Mackey.

No comments:

Post a Comment